Welcome back to mental health integration. This is part three of the short. I am  Brandon again. And this time we're going to be talking about stories of people  with mental health issues because it helps us understand what's going on in  mental health issue. Now normally when we think about a mental health issue,  we think of a story. And we think of a picture like this. Someone alone, sad, and  it hurts, or someone like this. Getting comforted, but it still feels like the person  comforting them as a million miles away. Someone like this is sitting in front of a  gorgeous space, but may not be able to enjoy it even a little bit. Because their  depression or anxiety is so bad. Or a picture like this. Someone's suffering  inside and it just hurts. They're being tormented. But we don't necessarily think  of this. This is my elementary school photo, and I am up in the upper right hand  corner. See if I clicked myself here. Yeah. And that one, right there. With a  striped shirt, it looks like a huge card because I absolutely was. Now, what you  need to know about this is I had no experience with mental health until I was 13  years old. And when I was 13 years old, my uncle came to live with us. And my  uncle had bipolar disorder type one came to live with us because he had lost  everything in a single day. And after that day came to live with us because he  literally had nothing. He no longer had a family or a house or a job. He needed  everything and he needed to rebuild it from scratch. My mom took care of him.  She got him to a psychiatrist and therapist appointment. She helped him get  back on his medications. He got stabilized back out. And in that year, he taught  me the fine points of watching football games, and bowling, all American  pastimes. For the record, I played goalie and soccer and still prefer that football  to American football. But that's okay. After that time, I got I got a chance to go on a school trip to England. And my parents said that they put their son on a plane  and a monster came back. Because during that time, all of the symptoms of  bipolar type one rapid cycling showed up with me. That used to be the DSM  designation before bipolar became more of a spectrum illness. So what did that  mean? That meant I spent the next portion of my life trying to figure out what it  was to get well, my parents took me to a psychiatrist. And he helped me find  meds. By helped me find meds I mean, I saw him every single week. And we  went through a myriad of different medications. We started with the things that  worked for my uncle, but when I was allergic to them, we started moving through med after med after med. Then we started working through combinations of  meds to see if we could find something that would work. During that time, I was  trying to go to school and trying to pass classes and failing at passing classes.  My sophomore year of high school, which was when most of this was going on, I carried a 1.3 GPA. And that because it turns out that you can't fail home ec. But I failed basically everything else. During that time, I had the same day, every day,  I would wake up in the morning, I would go to school, I would eat my breakfast, I would take my meds, I would try to make it through my classes, I would often  have to leave school because my med would make me vomit during class. So 

run to the bathroom and vomit. I would cry in the stall if it hurt too badly, because I would have these sudden onsets where I couldn't do anything but weep. Which is horribly, horribly cruel to do to a high school kid who's already incredibly  insecure. I would try to make it through the rest of my day, I would make it to  lunch, and my afternoon. And oftentimes I would crash again in the afternoon.  Not be able to make it through the rest of my school day. I would call my mom  and she owned a bookstore and sometimes she would call in and call in that I  was sick. I didn't have a car so I would walk home. It was a couple of miles I  would walk and I would go home. I played drums at night. That's how I got rid of  the pain. So I would just go beat on my drums until I broke a stick. Because at  least then it didn't hurt. I would go back to my room. I would often sob into my  own mattress cover, and I would go down for dinner. I would try to do homework, but I often just couldn't. And then I would rinse and repeat that day, every day.  Once a week, I saw my psychiatrist. once every other week I saw a therapist.  They tried to help as much as they could. But we didn't know if I was going to  make it. My psychiatrist pulled my parents aside after this had gone on for just a  little bit and said, people like Brandon don't last very long. I just want you to get  ready because if you commit suicide, you need to know that it might come. So  he got my parents ready. But then I never did. After a few years, we found meds  that worked well enough that I could function a little bit. I went from being an  honor roll student to flunking school, to being a C student, and having to go to  Sylvan Learning Center to learn how to study again. And then during the course  of my next year, so we found meds that worked. And it was like the sky opened.  The sun came down, shone and it was hoping it was life again. What is the  value of this line? Is there any benefit to it? That was how I personally saw  myself and what was going on in that space is that there was nothing good.  There was only brokenness and something that would contaminate the world  around me. Stepping forward. We knew we can get through it. But we didn't  know how that was going to happen, or what was going to come out of it. Now  my story ended well, and I look forward to sharing more about that in the section ahead.

Last modified: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 8:15 AM